eCITES receives Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum 2024 Innovation Award

Updated on 06 April 2024


Samarkand, 5 April 2024 — The processing of paper-based trade documentation, such as permits and certificates, can lead to issues such as an increased risk of fraud, time consuming processing of manual permits, lack of access to trade and transaction information, and poor data sharing between the parties involved in the clearance process. These issues are exacerbated for those seeking to trade internationally species regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as additional information is required to ensure the trade is legal and sustainable. In response to these challenges, the CITES Secretariat has developed a comprehensive set of tools for electronic CITES permitting systems, or eCITES, that support the global greening of trade processes. 

APTFF 2024 Innovation Award presented to CITES Secretariat in ceremony

On 2 April 2024, the CITES Secretariat received the Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum (APTFF) 2024 Trade Facilitation Innovation Award in recognition of the Convention’s electronic permitting systems (eCITES). The prestigious APTFF Trade Facilitation Innovation Awards bestow recognition to innovative national or subregional trade facilitation cases reflecting the annual theme. The 2024 Awards considered cases that featured either feature either (1) implementation of innovative trade facilitation measures not specifically featured in the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA) or other major global conventions or agreements, or (2) trade facilitation measures implemented in an innovative manner, such that they have contributed to at least two of the three pillars of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda (economic, social and environmental pillars), or are using emerging digital technologies.

CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero expressed her appreciation to the organizers and said: “The CITES Secretariat is honoured to accept this distinguished award. This global recognition brings awareness to the necessity and utility of a key digital innovation in the international wildlife trade, which I hope will inspire wider eCITES implementation among our Parties.”

Electronic CITES Permitting Systems (eCITES) have catalyzed a novel set of collaborative efforts for enhancing trace facilitation and leveraging digitalization for legal, sustainable, and traceable international wildlife trade. To date, 31 Parties have made considerable strides in implementing eCITES, with an additional 12 Parties in the initial planning phases. Their dedicated efforts have significantly bolstered transparency, curtailed the exploitation of counterfeit permits, facilitated smoother cross-border transactions, and fortified international collaboration.

In its submission, the Secretariat highlighted the comprehensive set of standards, tools and guidance for eCITES implementation and their benefits to the Parties. It further elaborated how eCITES has contributed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - namely, SDG 13 (Climate Action), SDG 14 (Life Below Water), SDG15 (Life on Land) and SDG17 (Partnerships for the Goals) - by increasing access to reliable wildlife data, improving the sustainability, legality and traceability of wildlife trade, and improving economic opportunities for indigenous peoples and local communities involved in trade.

In accepting the award, CITES Secretariat Programme Officer and eCITES Focal Point Salehin Khan highlighted the contributions of the partners in developing eCITES making it a valuable source of framework for implementing permitting systems based on international standards and best practices. In particular, he pointed out the support provided by Switzerland in advancing eCITES among the CITES Parties, as well as to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Automated System for Customs Data (UNCTAD ASYCUDA) for jointly developing an off-the-shelf digital eCITES solution.

UNCTAD Director of Technology and Logistics Shamika N. Sirimanne, said, "I congratulate CITES on winning the APTFF award. UNCTAD is proud of its collaboration with the CITES Secretariat for the joint development of the off-the-shelf eCITES permitting system. This eCITES system is actively protecting ecosystems by helping governments better manage the trade in CITES protected species of fauna and flora."

The 11th APTFF was held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan from 1-5 April 2024. This iteration of the Forum delved into the transformative potential of digitalization in promoting sustainable supply chains throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The Forum stands as the premier regional platform fostering the exchange of best practices and insights into trade facilitation. Jointly organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in collaboration with an expanding network of partners, the APTFF has drawn in over 250 participants from across more than 30 countries and offered an extensive array of opportunities for capacity building and fostering cooperation.

The agenda featured dynamic panel discussions and engaging sessions designed to facilitate the exchange of experiences and perspectives on various facets of trade facilitation and digitalization. Topics spanned cross-border paperless trade and transport to the integration of environmental sustainability into the trade process. Participants tuned in from around the world for in-depth discussions on relevant regional initiatives and practical implementation cases.



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About CITES 

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was signed on 3 March 1973 and entered into force on 1 July 1975. With 184 Parties (183 countries + the European Union), it remains one of the world's most powerful tools for wildlife conservation through the regulation of international trade in over 40,900 species of wild animals and plants. CITES-listed species are used by people around the world in their daily lives for food, health care, furniture, housing, tourist souvenirs, cosmetics or fashion. CITES seeks to ensure that international trade in such species is sustainable, legal and traceable and contributes to both the livelihoods of the communities that live closest to them and to national economies for a healthy planet and the prosperity of the people in support of UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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